Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Your Challenge: Become an "Askable" Adult

Growing up in several non-traditional family situations, such as living with my grandparents and with my friends’ families, I had many sources of information as a teenager. But how do you know who to trust and who to go to for guidance and advice?  I surely wasn’t comfortable turning to my dad, brother, or grandparents for advice about love, sex, and relationships. I was lucky that my middle school and high school supported a comprehensive sex education program, so I learned a lot about the birds and the bees in health class, but sometimes that just isn’t enough.

Me and my beautiful nieces, June 2010
Due to the instability at home in middle school and high school, many of my friends’ moms took me under their wing and made sure I was doing well. I always felt like I had many moms who deeply cared about me and supported me in all that I did – school, music, athletics, attending college, and later, grad school. I even had a friends’ mom go to a doctor’s visit with me when I was feeling anxious about a certain procedure and diagnosis. Not every child is as lucky as I was to have so many adults involved in their lives, but many times these adults were someone other than my parent; they were in a different role, but were in a position to be a trusted, “askable” adult.

During my senior year of high school, I moved in with a family who I had become very close to, and I was fortunate to be supported by everyone – immediate family members and extended. They took me in as one of their own on Nov. 2, 2004, and I have loved them as family ever since. It was also fortunate that my new “dad” was a pediatrician and my new “mom” was a pediatric nurse (both have recently retired), so I had more access to accurate health information than other people my age. Most of the time, I was more comfortable asking sensitive questions to those adults who were not in my biological family.

My challenge to you is this: even if you aren’t a parent, become a trusted, “askable” adult, whether it’s to a sibling, a niece or nephew, a member of your Girl Scout troop or on the football team you coach. Our young people need to have access to and be comfortable with having open, honest conversations with adults who are knowledgeable and know accurate information about sex and contraception. Educate yourself on these issues and make yourself available as a good resource for young people in your life. I hope that when my nieces are old enough, they will approach me for advice about sensitive topics, and I will be prepared to guide them and support them in making responsible decisions.

For resources on how to talk to young people about love, sex, and relationships, click here.

by Sara Lamberson, Corporate Communications Specialist, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

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